EPL

Premier League data dive: City successful at Arsenal again, Moyes finally beats Mourinho

By Sports Desk February 21, 2021

Manchester City showed few signs of slowing as they recorded another win at Arsenal on Sunday.

The runaway Premier League leaders remain 10 points clear of both Manchester United and Leicester City, who each enjoyed victories of their own.

West Ham complete the top four, meanwhile, after a long-awaited triumph for manager David Moyes.

We start at the London Stadium in recapping the best of Sunday's action with the help of Opta data.
 

West Ham 2-1 Tottenham: Moyes ends miserable run against Mourinho

Moyes finally got the measure of Jose Mourinho as West Ham climbed into the top four with a 2-1 home win against Tottenham.

This was Moyes' first victory over Mourinho in 16 attempts in all competitions, halting his worst winless record against any one coach.

Michail Antonio's fifth Premier League goal against Spurs and 42nd in total - all of which have come from inside the box - opened the scoring early on, before another swift strike in the second half took the game away from Tottenham.

Scorer Jesse Lingard, whose best spell of his United career came under Mourinho, has netted as many goals (three) for Moyes in four league games on loan at West Ham as he did in 36 appearances for Red Devils manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Although Lucas Moura's header halved the deficit, Mourinho has now suffered 15 defeats and picked up only 81 points from his first 50 league games as Tottenham coach - the worst such returns of his career.
 

Aston Villa 1-2 Leicester City: More Villa Park joy for Rodgers

Brendan Rodgers maintained his 100 per cent winning record away to Aston Villa as Leicester won 2-1 at Villa Park.

Rodgers has won all six of his Premier League games at Villa Park as manager, the past two with Leicester ensuring the Foxes have enjoyed back-to-back away top-flight wins against Villa for the first time since October 1960.

James Maddison's eighth Premier League goal of the season broke the deadlock and made this his best scoring campaign in the top tier, before Harvey Barnes added his 13th in all competitions in 2020-21 - second only to Jamie Vardy (14) among Leicester players.

Bertrand Traore got a goal back and has now been involved in eight in the league for Villa since his debut, but the absent Jack Grealish, the only man at the club this season to better that tally (10), was sorely missed.

0.9 - Under Dean Smith, Aston Villa have averaged 1.5 points-per-game in league competition when Jack Grealish has featured compared to 0.9 points-per-game without him, losing all three Premier League matches without the Englishman since the start of last season. Centrepiece. pic.twitter.com/QafEdQ7IKY

— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 21, 2021  

Arsenal 0-1 Manchester City: Records stacking up for Pep's class of 2021

City equalled their own record for consecutive away wins across all competitions by a team from England's top flight, landing a 1-0 success at Arsenal.

An 11th straight victory on the road - tying their 2017 run - also made City the first visiting team to ever enjoy four league wins in a row at Arsenal without conceding.

In all, Arsenal have lost eight league matches on the bounce to City, tying Leeds United's benchmark streak against the Gunners from 1973 to 1976, and a familiar foe proved their undoing.

Raheem Sterling has scored in three consecutive league games at Emirates Stadium and no player in the division has more than his 20 on the road since the start of last season.

City stood firm at the other end with a 15th league clean sheet of the campaign and more achievements might be on the horizon, as a 25th game without defeat across all competitions takes them closer to their best run under Pep Guardiola of 28 in 2017.
 

Manchester United 3-1 Newcastle United: Red Devils dominate Magpies again

United's dominant home record against Newcastle United only briefly looked at risk as they won 3-1 in Sunday's final match.

Newcastle have won on just one of their past 36 league visits to Old Trafford, where Marcus Rashford's 40th goal in all competitions since the start of last season broke the deadlock - his tally is only bettered in that time by Mohamed Salah (47), Harry Kane (45) and Sterling (44).

Allan Saint-Maximin soon equalised - his fifth goal involvement of the campaign - but Dan James restored the home advantage from Bruno Fernandes' pass.

Fernandes secured the points from the penalty spot and now has 15 goals and 10 assists in the Premier League this season, the third player to reach double figures in both goals and assists in Europe's 'top five' leagues (also Kane and Thomas Muller).

United, who have just one defeat in 19 in the league, have now scored 53 times in 25 league matches, their best return at this stage of a season since their title-winning 2012-13 campaign (60).

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    Several of Europe's biggest clubs, including Juventus, Manchester City and Arsenal, are said to be interested in the Serbia international.

    Reports in Italy suggest Juve are the 21-year-old's preferred destination.

    Vlahovic has scored 17 times in 21 Serie A appearances this season, finding the net every 109.5 minutes on average and outperforming his expected goals tally of 12.2.

    He also ended 2021 in impressive fashion, equalling Cristiano Ronaldo's 21st-century record for the most goals in the Italian top flight in a calendar year (33), set in 2020 – only Gunnar Nordahl in 1950 (36) has ever scored more across the same period.

    But Fiorentina, who have already confirmed they are open to selling their star forward, want Vlahovic to provide them with some clarity on his future.

    Barone told Sky Sport Italia ahead of Sunday's clash with Cagliari: "I want to talk about Fiorentina, who are playing today [Sunday] and deserve all the focus of the club and fans.

    "We talk every day about this, we said a lot recently, Fiorentina have not received any offers. We have been very clear, we are open to anything, but we want clarity.

    "We want clarity from the player and his entourage. Fiorentina have a future, which isn't just today's game, but also the future of a group, a fanbase, a city. We need to concentrate on that too."

    Vlahovic was left out of the squad for the trip to Cagliari with Fiorentina announcing, but not naming, that two members of their matchday squad had tested positive for COVID-19. Riccardo Saponara was also absent.

  • Benzema defends Messi's PSG form: 'People who criticise him know nothing about football' Benzema defends Messi's PSG form: 'People who criticise him know nothing about football'

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    Messi joined PSG on a shock free transfer from Barcelona in August after the Blaugrana came to the realisation they simply could not afford to pay his wages in line with their reduced salary cap.

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    As for his creativity, Messi ranks third in the PSG squad for chances created (32) and his assists total of four is rather less than many would expect of him, particularly when Mbappe has 12 to his name.

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    "In any case you can't criticise a player like that. In fact, he who criticises Messi, knows nothing about football."

    Messi claimed his record-extending seventh Ballon d'Or last year, an award that many had tipped Benzema to win over the course of the year.

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    "Fourth, third or second is the same as 30th," he said. "The main thing is to win it.

    "I was told that I hadn't won enough trophies, but I couldn't do more. It remains a goal and each season I will try to do better than what I did last season."

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    Barty, the top seed, defeated Amanda Anisimova 6-4 6-3 on Sunday to progress to the quarter-finals in Melbourne for a fourth successive time.

    Anisimova defeated last year's champion Naomi Osaka in the last round, but she proved no match for Barty, who sealed the win in 74 minutes.

    Barty did see her run of holding serve ended, however, after 63 games without being broken, though it was a minor blip in another convincing win. 

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    "The last two years have been extraordinarily tough for a lot of people around the world," she said.

    "To have the crowd here, it brings a lot more to the tennis. It makes it a lot more enjoyable for me to play at home."

    Barty struck seven aces and registered a first-serve percentage of 78, while also hitting 23 winners and making exactly half the amount of unforced errors as Anisimova (17 to 34).

    "Amanda is an incredible athlete and incredible competitor. It's nice to see her back playing her best tennis," Barty continued.

    "I enjoyed sharing the court with her and testing myself against her. It was nice to be able to hold firm tonight."

    Asked in a post-match news conference about dropping serve for the first time in eight matches, Barty replied: "It didn't bother me too much.

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    "It's going to be a challenge for me to try and push her off that baseline and make her uncomfortable and feel like she has to create," Barty told reporters.

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